It is generally presumed that economic forces alone are responsible for this astonishing concentration of wealth. Technological changes, particularly the information revolution, have transformed the economy, making workers more productive and placing a premium on intellectual, rather than manual, labor. Simultaneously, the rise of global markets -- itself accelerated by information technology -- has hollowed out the once dominant U.S. manufacturing sector and reoriented the U.S. economy toward the service sector. The service economy also rewards the educated, with high-paying professional jobs in finance, health care, and information technology. At the low end, however, jobs in the service economy are concentrated in retail sales and entertainment, where salaries are low, unions are weak, and workers are expendable.
Champions of globalization portray these developments as the natural consequences of market forces, which they believe are not only benevolent (because they increase aggregate wealth through trade and make all kinds of goods cheaper to consume) but also unstoppable. Skeptics of globalization, on the other hand, emphasize the distributional consequences of these trends, which tend to confer tremendous benefits on a highly educated and highly skilled elite while leaving other workers behind. But neither side in this debate has bothered to question Washington's primary role in creating the growing inequality in the United States.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Plaintiff has failed to provide an adequate explanation for his son's inability to appear on his own behalf, which is fatal to plaintiff's attempt to establish "next friend" standing.3 In his complaint, plaintiff maintains that his son cannot bring suit on his own behalf because he is "in hiding under threat of death" and any attempt to access counsel or the courts would "expos[e] him to possible attack by Defendants." Compl. ¶ 9; see also id. ¶ 26; Al-Aulaqi Decl. ¶ 10. But while Anwar Al-Aulaqi may have chosen to "hide" from U.S. law enforcement authorities, there is nothing preventing him from peacefully presenting himself at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and expressing a desire to vindicate his constitutional rights in U.S. courts. Defendants have made clear -- and indeed, both international and domestic law would require -- that if Anwar Al-Aulaqi were to present himself in that manner, the United States would be "prohibit[ed] [from] using lethal force or other violence against him in such circumstances."
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I think Baumann makes several important analytical errors here, errors which lead to a too-simplistic boiling down of positions that one cannot so easily condense. For starters, it is quite wrong to say, as Baumann does, that imminence is “the key issue here.” As a matter of law, if Al Aulaqi is covered by the AUMF and one accepts that the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with AQAP, Al Aulaqi can be targeted at will.
“As a matter of law,” Wittes is wrong. International humanitarian law—the law that governs conduct within an armed conflict—admits only two categories of armed conflict: international and non-international. Each category provides certain authority and certain obligations to the parties of an armed conflict. Importantly, the authorities and obligations attach to one party even if the other party does not follow the law. International armed conflicts occur when there is a resort to force between states. All other armed conflicts—those that occur between states and non-state actors or among non-state actors—are non-international armed conflicts.
Whereas in international armed conflicts, states may target combatants at will—unless they are hors de combat—in non-international armed conflict, there is no such thing as a combatant. Instead, states are forced to target civilians who have forfeited their status as protected by directly participating in hostilities. This means that these individuals are targetable when they are on their way to or from some hostile action or while they are participating in that hostile action: think a farmer walking to the edge of his village to plant an IED, planting that IED, and walking back. However, in recognition of the difficulty this law places the state in, an emerging norm of customary international law recognizes “continuous combat function,” which is an expansion of the notion of direct participation in hostilities. An erstwhile civilian may so regularly engage in hostile action that he performs no other role in life; he becomes combatant-like and therefore targetable at will.
There is good reason to believe that Anwar al-Aulaqi has assumed a continuous combat function by taking on an operational role in AQAP and is therefore targetable at will. However, it is far from assured that that international humanitarian law has, “as a matter of law,” recognized such a targetable status.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
While many scholars and commentators seek to justify US drone strikes in Pakistan under either the rubric of self-defense or by expanding the zone of combat of the war in Afghanistan to include the frontier region of Pakistan, the proliferation of strikes and the fact that armed groups other than Al Qaeda or the Afghan Taliban are targeted leaves these explanations wanting. It is likely that the intensity of US drone strikes and the level of organization of the targeted groups places the United States in an armed conflict in Pakistan, triggering international humanitarian law.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I just finished this morning Barfield’s Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History. I mentioned it before, but wanted to return to it as I think it is currently the definitive book on Afghanistan’s history out there right now. Barfield comes to a few conclusions about the current state of Afghanistan that I think are worth noting.
Given these observations of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan, Barfield makes two key recommendations on how to get a handle on the situation.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
- GOP picks up between 35 and 38 seats in the House.
- Joe Sestak and Patrick Murphy win in PA
- Harry Reid hangs onto his seat.
One overarching comment directed to the Obama Administration: a mid-term defeat does not 1994 (nor, ultimately, 1996) make. The Republican Congressmen and women elected tonight are not interested in legislating and, therefore, are not interested in compromise. I would stop looking at the post-1994 Clinton White House as a model.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I was in Sao Paulo last week and something occurred to me. These folks have a long way to go, but they are making progress. I was staying at a fantastic Hilton is what was a decidedly business district (the adjoining mall was closed on Saturdays and Sundays) thinking up new words for large, complex topics and decided to take this picture out my window.
It's a little bit hard to see, but notice the rising favellas on the hill. I was in Sao Paulo and even as I was ensconced in a fabulous hotel, I was advised not to wander too far. This is the juxtaposition of a place like Sao Paulo. Barely more then a stones throw away from Brazil's world trade center (in the foreground) was a favella. Now the government is investing heavily in this location and I would wager the days are numbered for the particular favella.
This was a theme throughout the Latin American cities I visited in the past few weeks. There are a growing number of haves, but a persistent number of havenots as well. Of course, different governments have embraced economic policy. The great contrast being between Chile and Brazil (among the countries I visited).
I was talking to a businessman in a five star hotel in Santiago drinking a pisco sour (which I was told originated in Chile) he spoke of how the country has been dealing with some issues, both short-term and long term. In the short-term the country had been dealing with a massive earthquake and the mining disaster. In fact, as we met Chilean news had minute by minute coverage of the miners with the countdown graphic as they road the Phoenix to escape the cavern that had been their prison for 2 months. Despite this, he remarked how proud his country was. They had dealt with both problems with aplomb, in his estimation, and it seemed to be validation of a system of governance and economics that allowed Chile to do better then many countries during the recession.
Of course, this prompted the long-term issue. Chile suffers from a post-Pinochet identity crisis. As the liberal, Chicago school economic policies of the Pinochet regime bear fruit Chileans are put in a weird position. Can they applaud some of the policies while deriding the man? It is a whisper on the lips of many successful Chileans, something alluded to but rarely said allowed. The mention of Pinochet can still induce a visceral reaction among many Chileans, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the economic policies and institutions his regime put in place have positioned Chile well to move past a commodity dependent economy. Of course challenges remain, and they haven't made the transition away from commodities yet. Many of the miners broke through to the surface and immediately called for new mining safety regulations to prevent the kind of accidents they fell victims to. They weren't martyrs, but messengers and they brought their message at the point of greatest resonance with the population. The government response remains to be seen.
I really liked Peru, the people, the city of Lima, the food, and the pisco sours (which I was told originated in Peru). It, like many of the cities in Latin America is a city of contrasts. Consider this picture of the tourist-y upscale district of Miraflores.
And then consider this shot of a village about 30km away near the Pachacamac ruins. As much as I loved Peru, on statistic that I had heard shocked me. I had read Hernando De Soto's The Other Path sometime ago for grad school and he talks extensively about the need to bring the informal economy into the government fold. He talks about valuing ownership, and he presents all this as a way to combat the ideology of the leftist terrorist group The Shining Path.
Peruvian President Fujimoro embraced many of the policies and indeed The Shining Path was largely marginalized. The streets of Lima were some of the safest I walked in the region. And yet I heard that 60% of the Peruvian economy is estimated to be informal. This is the largest percentage in Latin America.
So those are just some random thoughts about a few of the countries I visited. It's an amazing region with amazing people and history (and food: chicarron, feijda, ceviche). All my observations are amateurish reflections from 4 and 5 star hotels, but for what it's worth, that's what I saw and thought.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Among the strange positions he’s taken are an opposition to targeted killing (because it demonstrates Obama is weak on terrorism) and opposition to civilian trials for terrorists (because it demonstrates Obama is weak on terrorism). In his most recent diatribe he writes:
The Ghailani prosecution is hanging by a thread today not because of the interrogation techniques employed against him, but because of the Obama administration's ideological insistence on treating terrorists like common criminals and trying them in federal courts.
There are myriad problems with this statement. One obvious problem is that the Ghailani prosecution is not hanging by a thread—if it were, the government likely would have pursued an interlocutory appeal of the decision that inspired Thiessen’s Op-Ed. Another obvious problem is that the reason for the set back in the Ghailani case has nothing to with the Obama administration—it has everything to do with the Bush administration's program of using overly harsh interrogation methods at secret prisons. The setback, if it is a setback at all, can be place squarely at the feet of the Bush administration, Thiessen’s former employer.
Ultimately, though, the oddest part of Thiessen’s preferred approach—“they can be held indefinitely under the laws of war”—is its implicit elevation of Ghailani, a terrorist, to the status of a soldier. Combatants and civilians directly participating in hostilities are detainable—not indefinitely, but until the end of hostilities—under the law of armed conflict. This is not meant to punish the combatants but to remove them from the battlefield and return them, unharmed and unpunished, once the war has ceased. Terrorists, on the other hand, are criminals: they have not killed other combatants (legitimate targets); they have not targeted infrastructure of military import and utility; they have not abided by the laws or customs of war. No, they have killed untargetable civilians, attacked civilian infrastructure: they have committed murder. They ought to be treated as criminals—and soldiers, including our soldiers, deserve better than Thiessen’s implicit moral equivalence with terrorists.
Finally, from a pragmatic perspective, civilian trials have proved eminently more effective than CSRTs or Military Commissions in dealing with terrorists. Since 9/11, upwards of 300 terrorists have been successfully prosecuted and convicted in civilian courts, garnering something like a 90% conviction rate. In contrast, 70% of detainees at GTMO who have challenged their detention through habeas corpus proceedings have won.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Here's one exhibit: 60 Plus has spent 83 percent as much as Kapanke has spent on his entire campaign.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
"It is one of these cases where, having invested an enormous amount of money, we are now arguing about a tiny amount of money in terms of bringing this to a successful conclusion," Gates said. "It reminds me for all the world of the last scene in Charlie Wilson's War, where, having forced the Soviets out of Afghanistan and having spent billions to do it, Charlie Wilson can't get a million dollars for schools." It's a good thing Charlie died in February at 76, so he won't have to watch the sequel.
Obviously Iraq is not Afghanistan redux--Afghanistan is not even really Afghanistan redux--but Gates' point should be well taken. Disengagement after Soviet withdrawal was a major contributing factor to the failure of the Afghan state, giving rise to the instability that facilitated the Taliban's take-over and, eventually, Al Qaeda's creation of a fiefdom there. For several years we've witnessed an incredible decline in US influence in Iraq. At the same time, the dysfunction of the Iraqi political system has been patent over the last 7 months as Iraq has struggled to form a new government, leading, it appears, to the resurgence of Muqtada al-Sadr. After the time, blood, and treasure expended in Iraq--ours and the Iraqis--it would be a tragedy to, through short-sighted penny pinching, undermine what was eventually built up.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
- Gen. Petraeus is quite supportive of these talks taking place and it's clear from his comments he views this as an integral part of the peace process.
- President Karzai (and probably Pakistan), his administration, and his allies seem to be hedging on the prospects that these talks will even take place.
- Gen. Petraeus understands that Afghanistan have never been stable as a highly centralized nation, and those that have tried to impose such an order have met with fierce resistance. He, I think, understands that there need to be a weak central government (likely based in Kabul) that will project minimal power over the other urban centers and even less over the rural hinterlands of Afghanistan. In return, that central government will have peace.
- President Karzai wants all or nothing. It seems the concessions of authority (and the limits of extortion) a reconciled central government would need to tolerate is an intolerable position for Karzai. He forget his history prior to 1970 and perhaps has too much arrogance to understand how bad the past 40 years have been for Afghanistan, when his predecessors tried to do what he is himself trying to do now.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
There’s a great paper put out by the Tax Policy Center, which puts into greater detail what the effect of the Obama administration’s proposed tax plan would actually mean at different income levels. The paper determines:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
--Robert L. Rabin, Federal Regulation in Historical Perspective, reprinted in Peter L. Strauss, Todd D. Rakoff & Cynthia R. Farina, Administrative Law 13, 17 (2003).